The South African Pavilion was formally opened on 6 May at the 2010 World Expo Shanghai by the South African Department for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The pavilion was aptly named "The Rise of a Modern Economy - Ke Nako". Oasys Innovations is the official supplier for the design of the pavilion, content and project management.
The South African Pavilion is focused on changing perceptions that we are a modern economy with a first world infrastructure. The Pavilion was designed by Monique Placido of Oasys and expresses South Africa's vision of creating a better life for all. A new theme will be introduced every month, so that visitors can learn more about South Africa's position in the global market and what our country has to offer. Says Schoeman Du Plessis, Pavilion Director: "There seems to be perceptions in China, and for that matter also a perception from many visitors around the globe, that South Africa is not a modern country. We would like to change those perceptions and maximise our trade relationships with our Chinese counterparts and the rest of the world."
This is the first time since 1992 that South Africa is taking part in the World Expo as a stand-alone pavilion The first Expo was initiated by Prince Albert at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, in 1851. Oasys will function as the custodians for the South African pavilion and is responsible for the entire project, until the end of November when the Expo closes its doors. Placido says that she introduced design elements, incorporating energy saving lighting, the use of sustainable materials and modern icons in South Africa. "We infused these elements to create a unique South African ambience. Shanghai is very design orientated and this inspired the Oasys design team and DIRCO to integrate the look and feel in line with local customs. We also looked at the bigger picture, showcasing the corporate positioning of South Africa and creating a holistic experience."
The pavilion is over 2000m2, with two tapered Hi-Definition LED screens, projector screens, touch screens and led screens to enhance the theme message. The South African government put the tender out to Chinese companies for the construction and implementation of the design. All the graphics and the content were created locally as South Africa has an understanding of economic empowerment, thus utilising Chinese resources assuring economies of scale, benefiting both countries.
The World Expo is a mini city within Shanghai and attracts over 450 000 visitors daily. The pavilion attracts on average 20 000 visitors daily, with Saturdays being even busier, according to Du Plessis. Queues outside the pavilion are about 25 minutes long and Oasys introduced seating comfort for visitors in the pavilion, while watching the presentations on the Hi-Definition LED screens. The visitors also receive literature, providing more information on South Africa's trade and industry and marketing collateral. The privilege of tasting our unique and famous New World wines is also offered to visitors. Says Placido: "With creating comfort for the visitors, South Africa is seen as being very hospitable. We chose African aesthetics in the materials and finishes to fuse our textured and diversified characteristics as a nation into the design to which our visitors are responding positively to the overall look and feel."
Concludes Brian Kennedy, Chief Executive of Oasys Innovations: "This was a project that has elevated our company onto a new playing field. Just as South Africa moved up the ladder from a traditional third world country to being right up there amongst the best in the world, this partnership with DIRCO has allowed us to confirm brand synergies and to reposition all relevant players."